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Postgrad Med. 2011 Jan;123(1):34-44. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.01.2243.

The pharmacological treatment and management of obesity.

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Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Obesity is a pandemic with many complications that increase the societal disease burden and cost of health care, and decrease longevity and quality of life. Currently, 1 in 3 adults in the United States is obese. Physicians must therefore regularly confront obesity and its consequent diseases, and develop strategies for effective treatment and management. This article summarizes current lifestyle modifications, pharmacological treatment, and surgical options for the management of obesity and discusses the benefits, limitations, and risks of each. As insights are gained into the pathophysiology of a gut-brain neurochemical feedback axis governing satiety and feeding behavior, targets for new pharmacotherapies are being developed. In particular, gut hormone analogs are an attractive antiobesity therapy because they appear to lack the adverse effects historically associated with central nervous system-acting agents.

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